Happy

Ander and Terri My little 2 year old grandson, Ander, is often all smiles. His bumpy start in life has in no way diminished his sheer joy of being on this planet.

He has difficulty speaking and has speech therapy every Monday. Progress is slow, but steady. There are only a few words that he can say clearly. One of them is “happy”.

Ander’s eyes twinkle and his face lights up with his precious smile when he says, “Happy”. It is the only word that he is able to say to express what he is feeling and he says it frequently. Sometimes he throws his little arms around me and says, “Happy”; sometimes he says it as he is running around playing; and sometimes he says it when he is sitting still in a roomful of people he loves.

As I have contemplated Ander’s use of “happy”, I have come to see the emotion of happy in a whole new light. Happy is often thought of as a state of being or a state of mind when things are going well. But what about when things are tough or trying or downright miserable? Can one be happy at those times?

Sure. But it takes effort and a completely different mindset of what it means to be happy.

Rainbow at work

Eight years ago I was diagnosed with an autoimmune illness called vasculitis. As with so many autoimmune illnesses, it can be beastly. Its physical damage is wide ranging and can ring every drop of happiness right out of me. In the words of Ron Weasley when encountering the dementors for the first time, “I felt as if I would never be cheerful again.” I was 49 when I was diagnosed and the life I had worked so hard to achieve was over.

The first 3 months after I was diagnosed, I prayed to die. Living was hard and painful and the horror of what other damage my illness might cause was terrifying. I asked God to please be merciful and take me, but He did not.

As my life lingered on, I had to find ways to be happy.Β  All around me were reminders of the way my life used to be and those reminders were hazardous to my happiness. It was challenging to figure out how to work around the memories of what I had once had and what I had once been.

garden 2008
After 25 years of having a vegetable garden, this was the last big garden that I was able to have. My daughter, Tricia, and her husband, Tim, surprised me one day in May 2008 and worked all day to get the garden planted. It turned out to be a magnificent garden that year.

One of the most important things I did for my mental well being was to keep a regular journal. An integral part of my journaling was a list of things each day for which I was grateful. Keeping a gratitude list caused me to focus intently on the world around me and to notice things that I had so often overlooked — blades of grass, individual flower petals, the multitude of blues in the sky, dust particles moving through sunbeams, sounds of all kinds, my shoes, breathing in and out, indoor plumbing, the steady presence of The Savior in my life holding me while I descended into the abyss.

My chronic illness brought about new perspectives and made each good thing in my life rich and beautiful and precious. One night as I was taking out the trash, I paused and looked up at the sky. I could see so many stars — far more than I had ever seen from my yard. I live near the city and city lights block the light from all but the brightest stars. On this particular night, however, Heavenly Father gave me a gift — the ability to see more than I ought to have been able to see. It was an amazing blessing.

Most of the time my blessings were not so grand, but I found things each day which caused me to be grateful and HAPPY. I learned to allow myself to feel happiness despite fear and pain and having to live my life with diminished capacities. I became intensely grateful for my family and enjoyed them in ways that I had not imagined possible. Often I have thought that my heart would melt with joy because of something a family member said or did.

Best Grandma Ever
Sometimes my grandsons will have a sleepover at my house. The morning after one of these sleepovers, I awoke at 7:00 am and found this note and the roses laying on the floor outside of my bedroom door. The note says, “Mom-mom, you are the best grandma ever!”

I learned to do new things and began blogging. At first I had a personal blog, then a couple of years later I opened up my food blog. I learned a few things about photography and have learned, for the most part, how to compensate for eye issues when looking through a camera. Blogging became a huge blessing in my life, namely because of the wonderful people I have met from around the world.

Jerusalem at sunset Oct 2010
Another miraculous blessing — I was able to go on a 14-day Mediterranean cruise with my husband and his family in Oct 2010. One of our stops was in Israel and we were able to visit Jerusalem. I stayed healthy for the entire trip.

As many of you know, I am a nurse. I went back to school when I was in my mid forties and got my RN. I only got to work for about 11 months before I was diagnosed and became too ill to get off of the couch for very long. My boss was gracious and held my job for six weeks. I truly believed that I would be well enough to return to work within that time, but by the 5th week I realized that work was out of the question. I was devastated. The day that I finally removed my uniforms from my closet was a terrible, sad day. I thought that I would never again be able to practice nursing and I was markedly sad. However, God was merciful and after 10 months of misery He made it possible for me to start working again. I can only work parttime, but it is enough and I am so very, very thankful to be able to work at all.

Jesus and surgeons
I often feel The Savior with me when I am working. He has helped me many times. It is a testament to me of his awareness of all of us and our circumstances. He loves us. I know he does.

So now, eight years into this strange life that I live, my health appears to be relatively stable. I still have to take meds to keep my immune system suppressed, but all-in-all I’m doing astoundingly better than my doctors have expected me to do. To help me reclaim, or maintain, a bit of my former identity, I like to set up little challenges for myself — can you lift that heavy-ish item? can you run across the yard? can you still sit cross legged on the floor?; can you hold your breath for 30 seconds, 45, 60?; can you still lift your leg up onto the counter top?; can you give even the grumpiest patient something to smile about?; can you love the unlovable?; can you still do math in your head?

Can you start blogging again?

Yes, I can start blogging again. I can return to something that both challenges me and blesses me. I can blog and be happy.

I never meant to stop blogging; just the opposite as a matter of fact. I had many blogging plans for 2015, but by June of this year my health required me to take a step back. As I re-examined my life, I felt okay about not blogging.

There were good days and bad days. There were weeks when I never even looked at my blog. I forgot my password. My camera laid untouched for months. My kitchen was relatively untouched as well. I tucked inside myself emotionally and replaced blogging with scrapbooking. I have been working on documenting my life and the lives of my father, who died when I was 24, my paternal grandparents and my maternal grandmother. I reexamined my life and made time for exploring my soul.

blog logo
Terrrrrri…come baaaaaack!

Lately, I have been feeling the call of my blog to come back and start again. I have thought about it for about a month now and am happy with my decision. I have had a lot of encouragement from my daughter, Katie, from friends at work and from many of you.

My heart has truly been touched by those of you who have sent me emails and left me messages on my June 1, 2015 post. Thank you for your prayers; I am so very, very grateful for them. I honestly never knew that people I have never met would have such kind and loving feelings for me. I have gotten misty-eyed more than once.

So, I’m coming back to blogging. I will post a new recipe on Monday of next week. I’m pretty sure that if you live in the United States, you’re not interested in anything new right now because of Thanksgiving on Thursday. Yay for Thanksgiving! (By the way, my grandsons are helping with Thanksgiving this year. Kade (6) is making toast — hahahaha; Gavin (9) is making green jello with pomegranate seeds — a recipe from his other grandma; and Ander (2) says that he wants to help with the cooking in general — he loves to help stir things and lick the spoon.)

The Boys

Hi. My name is Terri and I am happy.

Terri in John's new Lazy-Boy
This is me sitting in a new Lazy Boy that I got for my husband last year for Father’s Day. I’m 5′ 5″ so you can get a good idea at how big this chair is! πŸ™‚

 

Comments

  1. Eric says

    Beautiful reminder of humility for this precious life we are given. I am happy you are back with your clever recipes.

  2. says

    What a wonderful post Terri. πŸ™‚ I’m so glad you will be coming back, but, more importantly, that you are doing well. Missed your wonderful stories, delicious recipes and your beautiful photos. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Donna says

    I missed you! I’m so happy you’re feeling better and well enough to blog again!! God blesses us in His time, not in ours, so sometimes it’s hard to be patient and wait until He gives us what He feels we need. Enjoy each day as you can, Terri and know that we’re all sending our prayers to you!

    God bless!

  4. evieb says

    Reading about when you saw the stars reminds of something our pastor used to say. He said this often and I can not look at the stars and not remember him saying, “when you look at the stars, remember the One who made them knows your name.” This one statement just brings home the personal relationship with God. Just felt the need to share this after reading your post.

  5. Betsy Glessner says

    Terri,
    So good to read this and know things are good right now. Loved seeing the boys…Ander has such a remarkable story…I remember when he was born. Really miss working with you. Although I do not miss working. Bless you, my friend, as you forge ahead with your optimistic attitude!

    • says

      Betsy, I miss you so much! Work is not the same without you. You were always so peaceful — I could feel the tensions of the day slide into nothingness when you would arrive at work. You were simply the best and your patients loved you. And so do I. πŸ™‚ ~Terri

  6. Carol says

    Oh how happy I was to see an email from your blog in my inbox today. It’s so good to hear you’re doing better now….I worry about you…it’s what I do. I have a master’s degree in WORRY according to my husband….silly man. I’m looking forward to see what goodies you have in store for your blog. I’ve missed your recipes and stories.

    Have a super wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and enjoy all the help from those adorable grandsons of yours. I love that Ander is handling “quality control”…that’s the most important job of all.

    Sending lots of hugs to you Terri-“seeing” you today has made me very very HAPPY! πŸ™‚

    • says

      Carol, I have a Master’s Degree in worry, also! I wish that I could go back in time and get a degree in care-free instead. πŸ™‚ I hope that you have a great Thanksgiving, too. Oh, and Ander definitely has “quality control” well in hand (and mouth). ~Terri

  7. Rie says

    Welcome back dear friend! You have been missed. Lovely blog. Looking forward to next Monday. Yeah…..something to make a Monday “happy”…..xoxoxoxoxoxox

  8. says

    Hi Terri! I was so happy when I saw your blog post sitting in my email box this morning. I am so excited that you are coming back to blogging. I have missed your beautiful writing and your wonderful recipes! I had no idea you have been dealing with so much health-wise these past few months… but you are a very strong and amazing person so I know you can do anything you put your mind to do.

    I enjoyed looking at your family photos! I especially loved the photo of you in that massive chair… so funny and cute! My wish is that you continue to feel strong and healthy in mind, body and spirit! Take care my friend and I am looking forward to your recipe post on Monday. Have a fabulous Thanksgiving with your beautiful family and enjoy the green jello with pomegranate seeds and the toast. πŸ™‚

    ~ Hugs ~ Ramona πŸ™‚

    PS… I changed my blog name from Curry and Comfort to Kitchen Simmer… just in case you don’t recognize the blog name. πŸ™‚

    • says

      Ramona, you are always so gracious in your comments! Thank you.

      I finally clued in a few days ago that you had changed your blog name. How fun! That’s a great name for a food blog. πŸ™‚

      I’ll save you some toast and green jello with pomegranate seeds! ~Terri

  9. Dalila G. says

    OH MY GOODNESS TERRI!!!
    How awesome to see your email in my inbox tnis morning! πŸ“¬
    Welcome back, you’ve been missed BIG TIME!! πŸ˜ƒ
    Such a lovely post today, beautiful, just beautiful.
    It’s going to be sweet seeing your post now & again.
    You must only post when you’re up to it, it is your domain after all.
    You are strong & brave lady, you WILL come out on top! πŸ‘Œ
    Sending you (((HUGS))) and feel good wishes!!

    I really like that chair you’re sitting in, too funny!
    I’m only 5′ tall, so I’m sure I’ll be able to hide in it! LOL!!

    Looking forward to Monday and another great recipe from you, but only if you’re up to it. Remember, you’re the boss here. ☺

    Have a great evening! 🌻

  10. says

    AND I’M HAPPY TO SEE YOU’RE COMING BACK!!! I could hardly contain my happiness when I saw your post on the teeny tiny phone screen when I was at work today. Couldn’t wait to get home and read your post. SOOOOOOOO happy you’re coming back!

    • says

      Woot, woot, Patricia! I am HAPPY to be back! You’re so funny talking about your “teeny tiny phone screen”. I need to spend some time catching up on your blog. Can you believe that I haven’t even looked at blogs since the end of May or early June? I didn’t read anything that had to do with food … I didn’t even pin a single food picture or look at a cookbook until earlier this month. I did, however, watch TONS of train and motocross videos on YouTube with my youngest grandson while I babysat him on Fridays. Ask me about motocross; come on, just ask me anythhing (giggle). ~Terri

  11. Mary H says

    You don’t know me — I am just a frequent visitor to your food blog over the course of time enjoying your writing, recipes and photos. Have checked back often since your last post and wondered what had happened and where your wonderful recipes had gone and if you and your family were alright…! I have missed your blogging and tonight to my great “happiness” I read this recent posting! About once a week I had been checking to see if you might have reappeared. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story — coincidentally my aunt had been diagnosed with Vasculitis years ago and I remember my uncle sharing with my parents about her struggle — we live in MN and they in CO, so we do not get to visit them in person very often as they are in their 80’s now. Thank you for coming back — you have been missed.
    Cherish your Thanksgiving — I, for one, am thankful that you will soon be returning to this site! I am Happy.

    • says

      Mary, I appreciate your comments so much. Thank you for your investment of time in checking back often to see if I had posted anything. I look forward to being able to blog again and share life in general with other people. I’m sorry about your aunt and am amazed that she has lived into her 80’s with vasculitis, bless her heart. ~Terri

  12. Carol says

    Aww, my friend Terri, I’m so happy to hear you’re returning to blogging! I didn’t know about your health and I’m so sorry (been MIA myself…family problems). I’m so impressed with your attitude. You are such a sweet person and I wish you the best of health and look forward to your posts!! xoxo

    • says

      Thank you so much, Carol! I’m sorry that you are having family problems. Those can be pretty darn tricky and pretty miserable, too. πŸ™ On a better note, though, I am still using some of your recipes… like that cake batter popcorn. YUM! ~Terri

  13. Margie says

    Wecome back, Terri! I’ve missed your blog with your unique voice and delicious recipes. It’s a great time of year to make your comeback! Happy Thanksgiving.

  14. Wendy says

    My sweet friend…. As I have learned of your health struggles, I have also of come to know of your great inner strength as well and that amazes me! You are a very wise old soul in a beautiful body! I am so, so happy that you’re back to blogging. I know how you’ve loved it and missed it. I look forward to seeing you soon. Happy Thanksgiving and happy blogging!
    Wendy

    • says

      Thank you so much, Wendy! I’ve missed you at work; things have felt a bit empty without you. I hope that your back sx fixed your achy breaky parts. πŸ™‚ Sometimes I sit in your chair when I am charting — I feel extra smart in your chair. lol. See you next week; I’m working on Tuesday, I think. Or maybe it’s Thursday. Hmmm…can’t remember right now if I am Rita or Cynthia that day. Guess I’d better look it up. (snicker)

  15. Rie says

    Looking forward to tomorrow’s post. No pressure or anything…. Teehee. How to prepare jello or make a scrambled egg…I don’t care…so long as your “are back”…..Hugs and kisses dear friend.

  16. Robin Beaver says

    Hi Terri, I’ve been reading your blog today. Now I can’t remember just how I came across it, but I’m so glad I did! You’ve made my day, and I’m very encouraged by your story! Robin

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